Fire claimed all Mack's equipment

URBANA — The advertising slogan for Mack's Twin City Recycling — "Starting it over is what we do" — has taken on new meaning for the business in the last couple of days.

Employees at the metal recycling business at 2808 N. Lincoln Ave., U, were scrambling Friday to reopen after fire ravaged their building and equipment early Thursday.

Bob McCartney Jr. and his cousin Ken Mathis co-own the business, which was started by their grandfather, Paul McCartney, in the mid-1950s as an automobile recycling operation. Today, Mathis runs the metal recycling operation while McCartney runs the auto recycling arm of Mack's on Kerr Avenue in Urbana.

Contacted Friday, a harried McCartney said everything was lost in the fire.

"The whole building is gone, all of our working tools, our forklifts. We lost most of the records, too," he said.

Despite the substantial loss, there are several bright spots:

The business is insured; they own another building nearby they can use while rebuilding goes on; and no one was injured. And while their paper records and computers were destroyed, technology saved them.

"We had everything backed up to an external server," McCartney said.

"We own another building about 200 yards away, and we're moving our operation into this building," he said Friday. "We hope to be open within a week to a week-and-a-half."

"Everybody is still working," he said of the approximately 20 employees of the metal recycling operation. "We're trying to do what we can to keep them going. It's Christmas."

McCartney said the repurposing of the nearby building was going on Friday as insurance representatives and fire investigators combed the remains looking for a cause of the blaze.

Early in the day, they still didn't have one, according to Eastern Prairie Fire Chief Mike Kobel. He said investigator Shane Arndt of the Illinois state fire marshal's office spent about seven hours there Thursday and wasn't finished.

"We've got an area of the building we think it started in. As far as a cause, we need to dig a little more," Kobel said.

On Friday, McCartney said he, Mathis and other staffers were trying to recall what equipment they had in the building before they could even venture a guess as to their losses.

"Our biggest problem is being able to weigh the material. We lost the scale head and the recording devices," he said.

They were working the phones trying to rustle up equipment and had someone scheduled to come Monday to see about putting a scale in the nearby building.

"If we can get the scale open, we will be able to take merchandise, but we can't process it until we have the equipment that was lost in the fire," he said.

"It's going to be a rebuilding challenge. We hope our customers will be kind enough to give us a chance when we get going again," McCartney said.

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